For God Rolled the Dice and the Universe Came to Be

roll-the-dicePhysics cannot describe what happens inside a black hole. There, current theories break down, and general relativity collides with quantum mechanics, creating what’s called a singularity, or a point at which the equations spit out infinities.

But some advanced physics theories are trying to bridge the gap between general relativity and quantum mechanics, to understand what’s truly going on inside the densest objects in the universe. Recently, scientists applied a theory called loop quantum gravity to the case of black holes, and found that inside these objects, space and time may be extremely curved, but that gravity there is not infinite, as general relativity predicts.

-by Clara Moskowitz
Space.com Assistant Managing Editor
“Space-Time Loops May Explain Black Holes”
Space.com

Clara had me at “space and time may be extremely curved, but that gravity there is not infinite.” About forty years or so ago, I took my first Astronomy class at UNLV. Yes, I know. That was back at the dawn of time when dinosaurs ruled the Earth, or at least it may seem that way to some of you. It certainly makes my knowledge of Astronomy rather antique compared to the advances science has made since that time. But I still enjoy reading a few popular (that is, easy to digest for the average person) articles on such topics.

In those undergrad days (the first time I was an undergrad), I wrote a couple of papers about areas of Astronomy that particularly interested me. One was the end products of stars. What happens to a star when it runs out of fuel to burn? If the star has a mass of three times or more of our own sun, it collapses into a black hole. When I was going to school, general relativity said that a black hole was a singularity and that its mass was infinite. Today, the latest theories suggest otherwise.

Exciting stuff.

My other favorite topic was Cosmology or the theory of the origin of the universe. I found a small book written by a Swedish scientist that involved Matter and Anti-Matter as active components in the origin of the universe, but it was a minority theory then. Today, it’s non-existent.

But Space.com has a really cool and readable article on what we know to date about the “Big Bang” and what followed afterward.

Probably a lot of Christians coming across this blog post are going to raise an eyebrow or two. At the little church were I worship, both the Head Pastor and one of the Associate Pastors have both told me they don’t believe in an “old universe.” They seem to believe, like many conservative Christians and not a few religious Jewish people, that the Earth is anywhere between about ten to fifteen thousand years old.

All of this millions and billions of years stuff as described in the Big Bang article doesn’t work for them. Why? Because of how they read the beginning chapter of Genesis which is literal. God created the Earth and everything else in six (they believe) literal days. The Hebrew word used for “day” in chapter one of Genesis is almost universally translated “day” as in a twenty-four hour period.

Given an inconsistency between human scientific observation and theory and the record of the Bible, they choose the Bible every single time. Biblical sufficiency pretty much demands it.

Or does it?

The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words;
their voice is not heard;
yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun,
which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy,
and like a strong man runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them;
and nothing is hid from its heat.

Psalm 19:1-7 (NRSV)

sky-above-you-god1Especially the first verse of the above-quoted Psalm tells us that God is revealed by the universe itself. We should be able to look at the stars, examine the heavens, and understand that there is a God. This is known as general revelation or the environment and everything we observe in it reveals the existence of God. The more specific revelation, which gives us lots of other details, declares God as well. It’s the Bible.

But should the two revelations conflict? I would think not. We should see them both fitting together like interlacing fingers of the left and right hand of man. Even if a person has never seen a Bible or heard of Christianity and Judaism, simply observing the universe, all of creation in all of its details, is intended to illustrate that there is a God. The Bible reveals many of the specific details of how God interacts with human beings, using principally the Jewish people and the nation of Israel as a model.

So what do we do when the Genesis story and our astronomical observations and theories conflict? What do we do when the Bible says that the Earth (and presumably all of the universe) was created in six literal twenty-four hour periods, and astronomical observations and theories conclude that our solar system wasn’t formed until the universe was already nine billion years old?

A Bible literalist will say that the Bible is always correct and human scientific observation and theory is wrong. A scientist (one who is not religious) will conclude that the Bible is full of hogwash and our best scientific observations and theories present the facts accurately to the best of our ability to interpret them.

But what if they’re both right?

If we believe God and David as he wrote the nineteenth psalm, then the universe is supposed to be a revelation of God even as the Bible is, so they must agree.

But how can they both be right when on the one hand, we have a matter of six days and on the other we have billions and billions of years?

I don’t know.

Ultimately, I don’t have to know, but like Albert Einstein famously said, “God doesn’t play dice with the universe.” Actually, all that means was Einstein believed the universe should be founded upon solid, deterministic laws. He was probably thumbing his nose at Quantum Mechanics (QM) which is much more dependent on probably and uncertainty in the universe. But he sells the point that the universe should make some sort of sense, at least as far as communicating to human beings that only God could have brought the universe into being. The “Big Bang” was a “spoken Word” (If you’ll read the Big Bang article, you’ll see that the initial tiny, tiny fraction of a second of the start of the universe wasn’t an explosion as we think of such a thing).

Actually, it’s not the awesome vastness of the universe that communicates God to me but the incredible weirdness that QM describes. The idea that “atoms exist in quantized, discrete states, loop quantum gravity posits that space-time itself is made of quantized, discrete bits, in the form of tiny, one-dimensional loops” inside a black hole is beyond bizarre and this, more than anything, tells me there is a God, one whose mind is incredibly and infinitely creative. His universe is shouting at us to pay attention. None of this happens by accident and no human being could have cooked this up.

The more we look, the more incredible and the more surprising the universe gets. We used to think that the universe was composed pretty much of ordinary atoms, the stuff we can see all around us every day. Now, we think that only about 4.3 percent of the universe is made up of atoms (75% hydrogen and 25% helium, with just an itsy, bitsy fraction of the rest being heavier elements, including the stuff that makes you and me), while the rest if full of much more exotic energy and matter.

According to an article by Stephen Hawking, God may well “play dice” with (or introduce uncertainty and some randomness into) the universe (there’s a notice at the beginning of the article that says I can’t reproduce any portion of the content, so I can’t include a quote…maybe Hawking’s cranky over his rather sad boycott of Israel…but I digress). It’s this uncertainly that, rather than suggest the universe came about through a random or unguided (uncreative, unintelligent) process, was built into the universe, and was the product of an infinitely creative mind and force…God.

I have no problem believing that the universe is more or less as we experience it; extremely old from the point of view of a human time scale. Why should God care? He exists outside of His creation, He’s timeless. Theories vary widely about how old modern human beings are, but I think the story of those early humans, our Adam and Eve, are the record of God’s creation of us and the creation of His relationship with us.

black-holeMaybe the only meaningful or reasonable historical record of God’s interaction with people is what we’ve experienced over the past ten or fifteen thousand years.

Everything I’m saying along these lines is highly speculative and I’m most certainly attempting to reconcile what human beings know about our environment and ourselves with my faith and trust in the God of Israel. If that’s being more than a little self-serving, so be it. It helps me sleep at night, and God knows I can use the rest.

I once heard an attorney use the phrase “hide the ball.” At the time, I thought she was referring to a children’s game, but I recently found out it’s a legal term. It means to withhold legal evidence. Legal teams sometimes “hide the ball” or withhold evidence from the court (a big “no-no” which could get an attorney disbarred) if that evidence could result in them losing their case.

Rather than refer to dice, I prefer to say that God doesn’t play hide the ball with the universe. That is, God doesn’t withhold evidence. What we see in our environment, from the tiniest particle to the largest galaxy (to the best that we can understand what we see), is what we get. Otherwise, God created the appearance of the universe to tell us a tremendous lie, and why would He do that?

He wouldn’t. But if God didn’t lie about the universe and He didn’t lie about the Bible, and if six literal days is different from 13.7 billion years or so (the estimated age of the universe), then God didn’t screw up, we did somewhere along the line. Biblical literalists assume scientists have screwed up, but I have to say, that’s pretty unlikely unless the entire scientific community devoted to cosmology for the last century or so are idiots or liars. I don’t think Biblical literalists are idiots or liars either, but I do believe that the beginning passages in our Bible cannot be interpreted with absolute literalism. Genesis One isn’t God’s “cookbook” containing the recipe for Creation.

Like Stephen Hawking suggests at the end of his article (although there’s no indication that Professor Hawking believes in a God of any sort), God may have a few tricks of His sleeve. Bible sufficiently just means that it contains enough information for us, not that it contains everything. The Bible fills in blanks in our knowledge of God that the universe doesn’t supply. I think the process works both ways.

For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.

Psalm 33:9 (NRSV)

One more thing. Please don’t imagine that I literally believe God rolled dice in order to create the universe. I just “warped” the above-quoted scripture to make the title. It sounded “creative.”

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25 thoughts on “For God Rolled the Dice and the Universe Came to Be”

  1. Big discussion to be had here…and I have neither the knowledge or caffeine in my bloodstream to have it. 🙂
    I will say this: I’m rereading Gerald Schroeder’s “The Hidden Face of God: Science Reveals the Ultimate Truth”. If you haven’t read it, humor me and put it somewhere in your stack of books to read. Reading it was a serendipitously worshipful experience. I had expected to learn more about physics (a secret fascination), but took away so much more.
    Hope you and yours are well. It’s been awhile!
    Peace,
    Allison

  2. I haven’t read that book, but I have heard several talks from Dr. Schroeder and it is fascinating. His theory is essentially what you described, the scientific reality and the biblical account coexist. Highly recommended.

  3. Many years ago it was called to my attention that the sequence of events in the first chapter of Genesis is a logical one, and yet perplexing in its description of day and night. On the first day of creation we have the creation of light and the distinction between the light of day and the darkness of night. On the second day we see something solid forming out of the still-formless fluid matter mentioned on the first day. On the third day we can clearly identify the existence of a planet, oceans, landmass, and the beginnings of vegetation, But it is only on the fourth day that we see distinctive markers for day, night, and seasons. It may be presumed that the planet was already rotating to provide a day/night cycle of some sort, but this is where the described sequence of events verifies it. Some have suggested that a thick cloud-cover might have prevailed beforehand to obscure any individual stellar phenomena other than the general light and darkness, and that the description reflects the perspective of a planet-bound observer. The intriguing question that was posed to me, however, was about how long green plants could survive if the day/night cycle were a very long one? Perhaps their photosynthesis could operate successfully during an extended period of daylight. But if the darkness of night were to extend for even only a few weeks, no green plants could survive. Hence there is good reason to consider that the references to evening and morning and individual days could not be describing extended time periods but might well be describing something on the order of a 24-hour day as the language suggests. Hence the periods of the first two days might be longer, but not from the third day onward. So we must ask, if the subsequent events could occur in suitably short periods, how could it have been accomplished? From a modern technological perspective, we might imagine a genetic engineer introducing a set of well-designed proto-species, already incubated to adulthood, onto a properly-terraformed planet. Could we expect any less capability from HaShem? From that point onward, we might expect to observe genetic diversification within each species, though not between the species, which is in fact what the paleological record shows. Thus the problem raised by macro-evolutionary theory of unidentifiable “missing links” ceases to exist. And there are some additional questions about the length of time required even to process the events depicted in the first two “days”. Current science is recognizing that non-linear variability exists in space and gravity, and that space and time are interconnected. Hence, time also must be expected to be subject to comparable non-linearity. Given that notion, human calculations about how long certain processes required, to present the image of the universe that we currently observe, could easily be mistaken due to their prior assumptions about linearity. In other words, estimates of “billions and billions” of years were based on unreliable assumptions. That would not indicate any attempt by HaShem to hide any evidence, and it is always a challenge for scientists to identify all the variables affecting any given observation in order to pursue an accurate interpretation of it. That’s why scientific theories are never to be taken as unchallengeable dogma.

    Thus, it is not impossible for the Genesis account to be an accurate representation of observed phenomena. Of course, we also don’t know the exact mechanism by which Moshe compiled his account. Some have suggested that he recorded a vision given to him by HaShem. Such a vision need not have been an actual recording of the events, and it could have been edited to accommodate Moshe’s human viewing capabilities. Even so, it may be a more accurate representation than scientists have been willing so far to credit.

  4. Schroeder’s name is familiar. I think I read an article he wrote back in the day on this very topic. Thanks for the heads up, Allison and Sean. I’ll have to put this one on my very long “want to read” list.

    Good to hear from you again, Allison. I’m glad you commented. Don’t be a stranger.

    Thanks also for chiming in, Sean. I took the liberty of adding the URL to your blog so that clicking on your name will lead to it. You might get a few more people to read what you’ve written that way.

    I struggle with trying to map the Genesis account with a logical sequence of creation events, PL. From everything we can tell thus far, the Earth developed geologically and biologically over long stretches of time. I have no problem with the Almighty doing creative work over vast eons but I don’t know how to make it all fit six individual “days,” even if those days are incredibly long.

    I think though, like other parts of the Bible, that God “packaged” a lot of information into the Genesis account and, for the most part, we just haven’t yet learned to decompress that data and extract the “message in a bottle” God has left for us.

    One thing I do believe though, is that God didn’t create a universe that deliberately lies to us, especially if “The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.”

  5. @James — All current natural science presumes uniformity of natural causes within a closed system. That assumption is convenient for conducting predictable and repeatable investigations, but it excludes the possibility of discontinuity or cataclysmic processes that introduce non-uniformities. As soon as one considers an alternative process that includes an active intelligent agent rather than merely extrapolating current observations backward linearly across time, none of the accepted time calculations are meaningful. Biological processes, including adaptive micro-evolutionary ones, carry no inherent macro-time indicators. Geological processes presume linear time and gradual progressions.

    However, recent studies of volcanic eruptions demonstrate processes that carve geological features within hours that would be presumed to require millennia if produced by non-cataclysmic processes. Planetary-scale flooding (think Noa’h) and the events that accompany it can produce strata and re-orient prior strata, rendering estimates about prior structures and sequencing entirely ambiguous. Radiological decay calculations presume decay-rate linearity that has been demonstrated to be inaccurate, and presume initial conditions about the concentrations of radioactive minerals that cannot be verified.

    While my science-fiction illustration of a genetic engineer designing planetary proto-species may be dismissed as fanciful, it nonetheless presents an alternative mechanism that would not demand long stretches of time. Thus, if so-called geological evidence regarding developmental durations can be shown to be questionable, and biological organisms produced by an active design agent do not require the time presumed for random genetic change to occur, then there is no basis for presuming that the processes of creation required long stretches of time, or that any processes now observable indicate the operation of the creative processes.

    The nature of science is influenced by its presuppositions, and one interprets the identically same evidence differently if one presumes there is no intelligent designer (G-d) and one must extrapolate from observable natural processes in an isolated “closed” system, or if one accepts the notion of an “open” system comprising an independent active intelligent agent and processes that are not currently observable.

    Nonetheless, the sequence of events is essentially independent of how long any given event in the sequence persists, and the general “mapping” of this sequence has been applied by various folks either to the impersonal naturalistic macro-evolutionary scheme or to the discrete literal creation scheme. I find the latter scheme more suitable to the broad body of evidence that includes revelation as well as science.

  6. I’ll certainly accept that we don’t have all the facts about creation and in fact, we can’t have all the facts (no one was there to witness it except God), so we can insert a tremendous amount of doubt about our belief systems. If, as you suggest, radioactive decay is not a constant over long periods of time, then it would mess up time estimates tremendously (although there’s no way to prove this one way or another). I’ve also heard it suggested that the speed of light might not always have been constant and since we use that as one of the major elements in measuring distance to very far away objects such as other galaxies, that would certainly affect our understanding of the size and age of the universe.

    However, the best we can do without more information is to speculate regarding the relationship (or lackthereof) between our observations of creation and the creation narrative of the Bible. Even if our observations regarding the universe are incomplete and not entirely accurate, they’re the best we’ve got so far and, if God wanted us to trust the evidence of the universe as proof of His existence, I can only imagine He’d want to make understanding the universe on some basic level to be straightforward.

  7. I don’t think the Bible was intended to be a complete scientific or historical record of what came before. There are no references to people or places outside the region of biblical events. No references to the areas we now call China or India or North America. What was provided was enough for man to understand God’s message in a way they could understand it. If the Bible delved into advanced astrophysics it would have distracted from message and would have blown their minds with information they could not comprehend. I do think that the big picture of what science tells us about the origins of the universe and life are largely consistent with the Bible. This is nicely explained in the book, The Language of God.

  8. So Eric, are you saying that the creation and flood narratives had a limited scope in terms of Earth’s geography, contained within the middle east, and that for the “big picture” view of creation, we need to look to the larger global environment and universe?

    That’s an interesting thought and it brings up some fascinating questions regarding Adam and Eve as the first human beings (globally or locally?) and who their children reproduced with (I hope I’m not reading too much into your statement).

    I see you’re suggesting a different book on this topic than The Hidden Face of God.

  9. We are all interpreters of the universe that surrounds us as well as the Torah/Bible. Psalm 19, in its first passage, writes of the heavens “declaring the glory of God;” in its second passage, of the Torah as “enlightening the eyes.” So it is both: the heavens and the Torah. But, as we are all individuals, we all see differently, interpret differently. Which is why we must gather as parts of a body, in harmony, speaking the truth in love, to get the whole body of truth. We are like a stained glass window which must have all of its sections and colors in order to complete the picture; which is a celebration of different colors, so to speak, not a warning of division.

    Even scientific fact, over the long haul, will likely have to be interpreted with a “nod of the head” toward Divine Creation in order to fall into a cohesive meta-theory supporting this or that or the other cosmological view. I don’t think that science alone is capable of uncovering HaShem’s process of creation. His process was supra-natural; man’s, merely natural. Hence, the heavens and the Torah declaring the glory of God, not separately, perhaps, but together.

    I did a little look-around and found Rashi’s discussion of Genesis 2:4 to include this: “Initially the Divine intention was to create existence with the element of justice, but He perceived that the world would not endure; so He preceded it with the element of compassion, blending it with the element of justice.”

    This is not a materialism-based statement on Rashi’s part, of course. But it is the more important point of view, it seems, if Micah 6:8 is highlighting justice, kindness, and humility as the sum total of what our lives should consist of. Empirical scientific knowledge is not highlighted by God anywhere, unless I’ve missed something along the way.

    Therefore, I sometimes wonder if the materialistic aspect of HaShem’s creation is perhaps being “hidden” from view like a hand in a glove, so to speak, from human view, as, perhaps, to God, it is not, so to speak, “to the point.” Justice and, lacking that, compassion, etc., seeming to be more “to the point” of living rightly from God’s p.o.v….

    Just thinking out loud here… a thought I like to entertain… HaShem rewarding those who seek Him in Spirit and in Truth as opposed to only through a materialistic/scientific lens.

    I like to entertain the possibility that a materialism-based pursuit alone will never lead to concrete material proof of the origin of the universe. More likely, an “alchemy,” if you will, of Torah-inspired insight married to materialistic empirical fact, or some such hybrid fusion of the two, will have to be grafted together if any certain empirical understanding of the origin is ever to be “revealed” by the Creator to man.

    At some point the intellect cannot understand Godliness. It reaches its limits. From this point, we rely on our faith in God. Perhaps that is why the material aspect of the creation MIGHT be permanently hidden from view — so that man will have to use the ayin tovah, the good eye, HaShem’s view, in order to understand the exact origins of the universe. If ever.

    Wow. Summer vacation is great. Didn’t mean to put anyone through such “suffering.” 🙂 I usually don’t have the time to “cogitate” to such depths on any given day… thanks for the jump start, James… pardon my eons and eons of word-space in the blogosphere taken up today… 🙂

  10. Even scientific fact, over the long haul, will likely have to be interpreted with a “nod of the head” toward Divine Creation in order to fall into a cohesive meta-theory supporting this or that or the other cosmological view. I don’t think that science alone is capable of uncovering HaShem’s process of creation. His process was supra-natural; man’s, merely natural. Hence, the heavens and the Torah declaring the glory of God, not separately, perhaps, but together.

    So you’re saying that we need to look to our observations of the universe and Torah to gain a full understanding of creation and our place in it. I was trying to say something along those lines. The main reason that I wrote today’s blog post was to address those Christians (and Jews?) who look to the Torah/Bible as the final word and that it overwrites what we observe in the universe. We tend to believe the Bible and disbelieve our observations when we say that the Earth is 10,000 years old instead of understanding that the Bible and the universe must agree with each other.

    I really want to get across to people that we don’t need to throw science under a bus just because the Bible appears to say something different than what our observations about the universe says. In extreme cases, some Christians come off as pretty narrow minded and ignorant when they insist on supporting certain points that are patiently ridiculous in the face of the universe revealed to us by God.

    No problems with taking “eons and eons of word-space.” I tend to write a lot as well.

  11. I found Schroeder’s Genesis and the Big Bang, one of his older books, at the Main Library. “Hidden Face” is at another library in the system so I can request it. I think I read “Big Bang” at some point in the past. I’ll probably re-read it before moving on to “Hidden”.

  12. “So you’re saying that we need to look to our observations of the universe and Torah to gain a full understanding of creation and our place in it.”

    Exactly. We don’t exactly represent God as the author of the universe and Torah in the best way possible when we reduce obvious cosmic complexities into rigid dogmatic certainties and cite the Divine Author of it all as the basis for our limited view.

  13. Unfortunately Dan, the conservative sides of both Christianity and Judaism actually do “reduce obvious cosmic complexities into rigid dogmatic certainties.” My wife believes that the world is only several tens of thousands of years old because the Chabad Rabbi has told her “that’s what Jews believe.” I’m pretty sure Pastor Randy and one of the associate Pastors at my church also advocate a “young Earth” viewpoint.

    You and I seem to see more eye to eye on this matter. I was having coffee yesterday with my friend Tom and he also has no problem in an Old Universe viewpoint. He’s a computer programmer and he’s been a Christian for forty years. Scientists aren’t perfect so individual studies can be suspect (peer-review isn’t always on the up and up and a lot of studies are published without peer review, although that information isn’t advertised), but the vast, vast body of astronomical and geological observations over long stretches of time indicate that our planet and the universe can’t be a mere 10,000 years old.

  14. We’re on the same page, James. As the jury is out on the subject, I see my position on the matter as being represented by Billy Martin, ex-Yankee player and manager, in the debate over “taste” and “calories” in the old Miller vs. Miller Lite beer commercials: “I feel very strongly both ways.” I’m in favor of whatever HaShem favors.

  15. I once read about the idea that Time began when HaShem breathed life into Adam, not at the creation of the physical universe prior. However, that doesn’t really jibe with “there was morning” and “there was night,” as they suggest the passing of time. But, as Rabbi Tzvi writes, time is also “movement,” no more than the occurrence of physical events. So, could one form of “time” have begun, emphasizing motion, prior to Adam, and then another form of “time,” emphasizing non-spatial order of another, more esoteric kind, have come after? Oy. This is why I love to read of the Ein Sof and the seiferot, etc… as metaphors of platforms of existence that we are still unable to explain…

  16. And yes, Martin was with the A’s for a time… very good. But his real bru-ha-ha years came during the era when George Steinbrenner’s reign of micro-managing ownership and ruthless business tactics shot the Yankees to the top of the baseball world.

  17. In physics, you refer to “time-space” since neither concept really functions by itself. When the universe came into being at the instant of the “Big Bang,” a rapidly expanding universe consisting of concepts we refer to as time and space began. There is not one without the other. Since God exists outside of our universe, he is then not under the rules of our universe and is considered “timeless.” I think that’s why we encounter so many problems applying “before,” “during,” and “after” to God. God doesn’t have linear time.

  18. Slight changes in radioisotope decay rates have been demonstrated already even within the span of modern measurements of it. The common interpretations of the “vast, vast body of astronomical and geological observations” are all flawed by the linear naturalistic closed-system paradigm. However, the same observations are being reviewed by other scientists who can successfully interpret them with an alternative model. Two biblical concepts cannot be accommodated by a system requiring eons of development time: one is the description of singular day/night cycles commensurate with photosynthetic vegetation (i.e., green plants), and the other is the notion that death did not enter the world until HaShem had to sacrifice animals to properly clothe the first two humans who had just sinned. A third concept precluded by a system that presumes natural processes such as are observable today must account for ab-initio cosmological development is that of external intervention by an intelligent being outside the system who used a different set of reversed-entropic processes to accomplish creation. In other words, it precludes the notion of G-d operating outside the natural machinery (“Deus ex machina”) and reversing the second law of thermodynamics. There are two very distinct models on which science may be based. The one that allows for operation by a “G-d” is scientifically inconvenient because it places some events outside of the arena that can be investigated by current observation and experimentation. Since scientists cannot replicate the processes of creation or ignore the second law of thermodynamics, they cannot properly investigate anything that happened before someone’s recorded human observations of a process. If it’s not still happening, they can’t examine it, and they can’t project current observations back to it inferentially. Interpreting geological conditions is limited by an inability to verify the processes that produced them. The data alone are insufficient. That is why most modern scientists have resisted such an inconvenient model and so vehemently defend the more convenient naturalistic one.

  19. James I think what I mean is that I don’t believe that the Bible was meant to be a complete historical or scientific narrative and the fact that certain scientific details don’t comport precisely with what the Bible says doesn’t really disturb me. The basic facts of creation as science explains them aren’t incompatible with the main points in Geneis. After Thanks for your great posts!the big bang it was dark as the bible says for a long time. The earth was without form and void. Then life started in the oceans, and then on the land. All perfect fit between science and the Bible. So if it’s 6 literal days or 6 figurative days I’m not getting too worked up about it. Thanks for your great posts which are always stimulating.

  20. @PL: Not sure I’m ready to imagine T-Rex co-existing with Adam and Eve, so I’ll leave those details for another time. 😉

    @eric: Congratulations to the father-to-be. May the birth go well and may your family thrive. Blessings.

  21. @James — After facing the consequences of dealing with the subtlety of the serpent in the Garden, perhaps facing even T-Rex might seem almost tame by comparison! There is a somewhat famous and controversial fossil that seems to show a human footprint having crossed paths with one of the large saurians, though one might expect such encounters to have been exceedingly rare if the humans had any sense. This fossil is not highly credited by those who think it a-priori impossible for humans and saurians to have existed in the same timeframe, hence excuses are made to dismiss the human footprint as something else. Humans, especially scientists, tend to downplay evidence that doesn’t fit their working hypotheses and model of history.

    On the other hand, we might well excuse Noa’h if the reptilian samples he loaded onto his floating zoo were selected from among only the smaller species. Apparently, reptiles grow to maturity rather slowly and never actually stop growing, and the large saurians might not have reached the stature that has been observed in fossils for a century or more, given the long lifespans cited before the Flood distributed a whole host of bacterial strains and other environmental influencers that may represent the mechanics of shortened human and animal lifespans afterward. But imagine how a crocodile or a Kimodo dragon would appear if it continued growing larger over a lifespan of several centuries.

    The development of hypotheses with which to paint a picture of planetary prehistory has been strongly influenced by the meta-beliefs of the human scientists who have tried to make some sort of sense out of scant and ambiguous data. The current popularized picture does not represent all of the data, and it could be overturned entirely in the same manner as were the physical sciences when relativistic considerations were introduced by Einstein and then Quantum considerations were introduced by Born, Heisenberg, and Pauli. That revolution is yet to be resolved as teams of scientists who are dismissed as religious “creationists” re-examine, for example, existing geneto-biological evidence in accordance with an “intelligent design” model of reality and challenge the existing paradigm that presumes there is only a “uniformity of natural causes within a closed system”. The philosophic basis of science has devolved somewhat into a kind of religious dogma that inhibits countervailing views and persecutes those who pursue them; and so far the courts have sided with the dogmatic status quo regarding the publicly-funded education of children. This may yet change, especially as home-schooling becomes more popular because its curricula are not so constrained.

  22. I see you are currently reading Genesis and the Big Bang. I read that more than ten years ago and it was a big help to me at a time when I was going through a long period of doubt.

    Even though the author isn’t particularly religious (as far as I recall) I thought he made some good points about the validity of Biblical creation accounts.

    A book I intend to re-read one day.

  23. I think I read it about ten years ago as well, Tim. Re-reading in preparation for reading one of his more recent book.

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